On Saturday, after a nice lie-in for everyone, we went to Edinburgh with Dawn. After our usual catching the bus and trekking through the city centre, we bought our train tickets at Queens Street station and boarded right away, because we were just in time to catch the next train. The train journey to Edinburgh (and it's pronounced (Ed-in-burr-ah, not Ed-in-burg) is just under an hour, and it's quite a nice one. I really, really like the British rail system. The buses may be cheaper, but the trains are brilliant.
We started off by having a walk round the shops, and were rewarded for our trouble by coming across an international market-- I don't know if it is a regular thing or just a special occasion, but it was cool. They were handing out samples of various sweets (and real food as well), quite a lot of jewelry was up for sale, and my pal Dawn was brilliant enough to buy me a new bag. It's fantastic, this little bag, and perfect to carry while cycling, because it's shaped more or less like a messenger bag, just smaller.
As we headed back toward the royal mile, Dawn needed to go into a shop and buy an extra layer-- she was wearing a t-shirt and a jacket, and it was a bit chilly that day, so she was getting cold. So into a shop we went, had a look round, and she found exactly what she was looking for. On our way to the castle, we happened across a bagpipe player (not that he was hard to find) and got a couple of pictures and a bit of video of him playing the national anthem. The Scottish national anthem, that is, not ours.
The street that leads from the train station to the royal mile gets you to about the half-way point, so we decided to walk up it to the castle, then back down all the way to the Houses of Parliament, and then back to our starting point. This is a street, again, that I've been up and down numerous times, but there is always something else to see. This time around Dawn pointed out to us the national court-- I forget what it's properly called, but it's the highest court in Scotland. Tourist shops are also in abundance in the royal mile, and if we had wanted to do we could have bought everything we could imagine with a tartan or Scottish flag printed on it.
As we walked along, I was telling Dawn about the time that Keely, Nancy, and I got our photo taken with William Wallace on the royal mile, then we rounded the bend and there he was. I had thought before that he was part of the Edinburgh festival, but apparently he's out at other times, as well. Tourists-- and probably some locals, too-- get their pictures taken with him, and the money he collects goes to charity. As we passed by, Dawn commented that he's better looking than Mel Gibson (which he certainly is), which he naturally overheard. His answer was, "I'm grumpier, though, hen." He said something else as well, I don't remember what, but Dawn told me that he may not have known which of us had spoken if I hadn't answered her. Of course, with such a strong difference in our accents, there was no chance of him thinking it was me after that. Anyway, the whole episode was very funny, and it was quite enjoyable to see him out there again-- apparently he's been doing this for years.
So we finally made it up to the castle, which still had bleachers set up in the parking lot for the Edinburgh Tattoo (an annual bagpipe and drum display). We didn't go in, partly because we've all been in before, and partly because it has gotten rather pricey.
So back down the mile we went (it's actually more like a royal mile and half, these days, but that doesn't sound as nice), past all the various shops, bagpipe players, and street theatre performers, until we arrived at the Houses of Parliament. The Scottish parliament building has only been in existence for a few years, and has been a source of much controversy about the cost of building it. And while it is a nice building, on the outside it is certainly odd-looking. The inside is very nice, and the debating chamber especially is lovely, but I don't think its aesthetic qualities go very far towards reconciling most Scots to its cost.
After all that sightseeing and picture-taking, it was time to head back to Glasgow. We were going to the movies that evening in the city centre, so first we stopped off for some Chinese, since we had been walking all day. The movie theatre itself is brilliant-- I don't know how many stories it is, but unlike most American multiplexes I've seen, it is a multistorey building, with several screens on each floor, and stack ot escalators to get you to the correct one. There is also a glass elevator on the side of the building, which adds a whole new dimension of excitement to the moviegoing experience. The movie itself was not that great, but the theatre was brilliant.
After the movie was over, we got the bus back to Castlemilk. At least, that's where the bus was supposed to go. We were about halfway there when someone-- presumably children-- threw a rock or something at the bus, shattering four windows-- three downstairs and one upstairs. The poor driver had just come on for his shift as well, and he was quite panicked. As it was, everyone had to get off the bus, he had to call the police, speak to onlookers, and look after the one girl who was injured. So we went up to the next bus stop, since we were not needed at that moment, and ended up getting a taxi home. And so ended an otherwise nice day.